New Zimbabwe (London)

Zimbabwe: War Vets Say Ready for New Economic War

THE Zimbabwe National Liberation War Collaborators' Association (ZLWACO) has said it is ready to front a new "economic war" and urged the government to nationalise all strategic minerals in the country.

ZLWACO chairperson Pepukai Togarepi told the association's 14th annual conference held at the Zanu PF Convention Centre in Gweru Saturday that Zimbabwe has remained "in perpetual bondage by experimenting with capitalism".

"We want the Zanu PF government to fully nationalise all strategic minerals in the country. Those who want to operate in the sector should rent from government," Pepukai said.

"The government is failing to pay teachers, nurses and the rest of the civil service because there is no money. It is one lie after another to the civil servants because we don't have ownership of resources to generate money."

Pepukai said members of his association who worked as runners to nationalists during the war of liberation in the 1970s would petition President Robert Mugabe over the issue.

The call from ZLWACO comes as government has indicated it is considering withdrawing mining licences to all but one or two of the companies extracting the country's precious diamonds in Manicaland's Marange area.

Zimbabwe had a thriving agricultural sector until Mugabe embarked on his land reform programme at the turn of the century.

What followed was a violent and chaotic exercise that, according to critics, sparked a devastating decade-long economic meltdown from which the country is still struggling to recover.

Togarepi however, warned that his association is ready to front a new "economic war".

"Revolution is journey to a certain target and this time our target is the economy of our country we must make sure it is equally distributed that why we are calling for a complete nationalization of strategic.

"We remain loyal to our revolutionary party and our President till we get to the target. Our new economic blue print (ZimAsset) we hail it and we want, by 2018, to have fully liberalise the economy," he said.

After the land reforms, Mugabe's Zanu PF party came up with an economic empowerment policy that stipulates 51% local ownership for all foreign companies operating in the country.

Critics say the policy, already being implemented in the lucrative mining sector, has forced potential international investors to keep away from the country.

Mugabe has in the past few weeks sought to allay fears of nationalisation insisting there would be no one-size-fits-all approach to the government's empowerment agenda.

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